Toto Wolff opens up on ‘frustrating’ crash between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell that shattered Mercedes’ points total at Qatar Grand Prix – but he is convinced pair will ‘grow’ from it ahead of Austin round
- Russell was able to salvage a fourth-place finish but Hamilton wasn’t so lucky
- The two drivers later made up after the seven-time world champion apologised
- Hamilton will be keen to gain ground in the race for second place in Texas
Toto Wolff has opened up on the ‘frustrating’ crash between Mercedes team-mates George Russell and Lewis Hamilton at the Qatar Grand Prix.
The team principal wasn’t in attendance at the track in Lusail as he recovered from recent knee surgery, but he would have been no less disappointed by the coming together which shattered both drivers’ prospects in the Gulf state.
The seven-time world champion started second and allowed his team-mate little space to manoeuvre on the opening right-hand bend of the track, and Russell’s front left wheel collided with Hamilton’s rear right.
Hamilton spun out into the gravel, ending his chances of a podium at the grand prix, whilst Russell’s Mercedes could be salvaged for the driver to finish fourth.
Whilst Hamilton at first blamed the younger driver, he later issued a public apology to Russell after reviewing the replay.
Toto Wolff shared his thoughts on the ‘frustrating’ crash between Lewis Hamilton and George Russell at Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix
The cars collided on the opening bend with Hamilton realising late that it had been his error
The seven-time world champion’s race was over as he spun off into the gravel moments after the start
But Wolff was keen to stress that recent events were unlikely to repeat themselves in Austin, with both drivers having learned their lesson.
‘The last round in Qatar was a case of what might have been,’ Wolff shared ahead of raceweekend in Austin. ‘As a team, you never want to see your cars collide.
‘It was frustrating to leave a lot of points on the table, particularly as the pace of the car was strong.
‘It was encouraging though to see how the drivers and the team reacted. Both Lewis and George know the team comes first and do not ever intend to jeopardise that.
‘I am sure we will all grow from this moment. We’re now focused on Austin and making sure we get the most out of each upcoming weekend.’
After reviewing footage of the crash, Hamilton was quick to apologise personally to Russell – with the pair sharing a hug after the race – and the team after first blaming his compatriot for the collision over his radio.
Whilst Max Verstappen wrapped up the season last weekend, winning his third consecutive driver’s championship with his performance in the sprint race, places in the constructors’ standings are still being hotly contested.
Mercedes sit just 28 points behind second-place Ferrari with race weekends left to complete.
Hamilton is also hot in the heels of second place in the drivers’ standings, currently occupied by Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez 30 points ahead of the Briton.
But Wolff was keen to stress that gains could still be made in the open competitionm and that small tweaks to W15 could see the team make up ground at the business end of the season.
Hamilton will be keen to make up ground between himself and second-placed Sergio Perez
Max Verstappen (left) may have clinched the world championship but his team-mate Perez’s position (right) is more perilous
‘We have a busy couple of weeks coming up as the season reaches its conclusion, starting with a triple-header in the USA, Mexico and Brazil,’ Wolff continued.
‘It’s always great to race at the Circuit of the Americas. There’s a fantastic atmosphere and the city welcomes F1 with open arms. COTA is one of the most challenging modern tracks and a real thrill for the drivers.
We’ll be bringing a modified floor, which is the last significant update we will take to the track this year. It will hopefully bring a small gain but more importantly, is another milestone in setting our development path for W15.
‘The battle for second in the constructors’ has become more intense in recent races. We will keep our heads down, keep pushing and aim to score as many points as we can to increase our advantage.’
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